In a win for environmental groups and bird lovers, a federal judge affirmed a decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to reject a petition seeking removal of the golden-cheeked Golden Cheeked warblerarbler from the endangered species list. The uber-conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, in coordination with Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, filed the de-listing petition in 2016 based on a controversial study by A&M University that has been criticized by experts as grossly overestimating the warbler’s population.

Central Texas is the only place in the world where this small, shy songbird breeds and raises chicks. It migrates from Mexico each spring to the mature oak-juniper woodlands of Travis, Hays, and surrounding counties in the Texas Hill Country. Originally listed as endangered in 1990, the warbler is a key species in the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Permit, which balances habitat protection with development in our fast-growing region.

The warbler is one of the ever-dwindling list of things that make the Central Texas area unique and extraordinary. Its protected habitat includes the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and what would Austin be without that? The rebuffing of this latest attempt to strip protections of a defenseless creature for the sake of profit is a victory worth celebrating.



We stopped the Leif Johnson Car Lot --for now. Last March, SOS was notified of plans by Leif Johnson Ford to build an 86,079 square foot car dealership in the heart of the Barton closemapSprings Zone, immediately adjacent to the Barton Creek Habitat Preserve that protects the Golden Cheeked Warbler, an endangered species. Leif Johnson attempted to claim vested rights to exempt itself from the requirements of the City's Barton Springs Zone Overlay, which restricts retail uses in the Barton Springs Zone to no more than 50,000 square feet. 

But, we fought back. After presenting our case to the City's legal department, the City agreed with us and refused to approve Leif Johnson's site plan. Leif Johnson sued the City in response, but we just got word that the City prevailed in district court. Leif Johnson will now be forced to either scale back its development or appeal the district court's decision. 

We'll keep you updated as the case continues, but hopefully the Golden Cheeked Warblers can rest a little easier knowing that a giant car dealership won't be threatening their home when they return to Austin. SOS thanks Alan Watts and Save Oak Hill for their continued vigilance in opposing the car dealership and the City's legal department (especially Asst. City Attorney Chad Shaw) for being receptive to our feedback and defending the City's ordinances.

For more information about the car dealership, please visit



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We are happy to announce that Barton Springs Pool will be open on New Year's Day for the Polar Bear Splash.  Many thanks to the pool staff for working diligently since poolstaffThursday after the flood to get the pool cleaned of debris so our community can enjoy the 2019 Polar Bear Splash ~ Austin style!
We are blessed to live in a place that honors this tradition and the soul of our city - Barton Springs.
Join us in thanking the following unsung heroes!
Pool Managers:  Matthew Miller, Danica Ruggles, Conor Hopkins, Kris Williams
Pool staff:
Edward Balaguer, Sophia Bastidas, TJ Bulgerin, Milton Hein, Shane Keckin, Joel Manzo, (see pic for Matthew Miller, Pool Manager,  Jim Pappas, Troy Clites & Carl Petry), Claire Prewitt, John Shumake, Alex Slivinske, Brave Stephens, Elleyna Thompson, Landon Tourne, Derk Wilkinson, Lindsey Worthington
And our PARD Officials:
Aaron Levine, CORO, Aquatic Supervisor; and Kimberly McNeeley, CPRP, Acting Director and Adam Thompson
We'll see you Tuesday at the front gate area!  We will have hot coffee, donuts and the commemorative Polar Bear tees for sale as long as they last. 
This last week gave us a stark reminder of how vulnerable Barton Springs is to urban pollution sources on the watershed south and west of the springs. The clear flowing springs pool4 1545407842538 6550525 ver1.0 640 360suddenly turned milky white, triggering a pool closure and rapid investigation of the source and content of the pollution.
Thankfully, the surge of polluted spring flow soon resided, and preliminary tests indicated the substance was non-toxic, construction-related fine sediments. The Statesman reported the source was an "unauthorized" drilling operation that was under litigation and would not be revealed.
This preliminary information is not fully convincing and far from acceptable. SOS is committed to investigating the incident fully, disclosing the identity of the polluters, and holding them accountable. We are also not convinced that the pollution was caused by a single drilling operation. The massive Mopac Intersections construction, in front of and near the Wildflower Center, passes over and near a number of caves.   The extent of the caves hit by TxDOT and the toll road agency during this construction operation has not been disclosed to the public.
With your generous end-of-year donation we can get to the bottom of this pollution event and hold the responsible parties accountable. Thanks to everyone for their vigilance, support, and concern.   We will be reporting soon on what we discover